Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o now wants the police to arrest and charge in court leaders of striking nurses.
The minister claimed leaders of unregistered Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) engaged in criminal activities as they urged members to remain on strike.
While maintaining that the striking nurses will be replaced, Nyong’o said organisers of the industrial action are operating in total disregard of the law.
“They should be arrested because they are endangering the lives of the people. These people have turned into criminals who have no respect to human life,” he stated.
The minister explained that leaders of the strike broke doors at various offices at Afya House in Nairobi when they went to meet Government officials.
“They broke the DMSs office and almost broke mine but I was there. There should be a little civility when demonstrating,” he added.
Nyong’o, who was issuing a statement in Parliament, termed the striking nurses as “zombies” who have no respect for human life.
He said the over 3, 000 striking nurses will be replaced with trained health workers who are unemployed.
“There are over 7, 000 trained and unemployed health workers who can take up their places immediately,” he added.
He named the worst affected health facilities as Kakamega Provincial General Hospital, Mombasa Provincial General Hospital, Nyanza Provincial General Hospital and Kajiado District Hospital.
Patients in public hospitals have continued to bear the brunt of an ongoing strike by nurses as the health go on with the industrial action until the government registers their union.
Leaders of KNUN and NNAK said they will not return to work, despite sack threats by Medical Services Minister.
The striking nurses argue that they have been unable to properly air their needs to the government due to lack of a registered single nurses’ trade union.
KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako blamed Nyong’o for allegedly being the stumbling block to the registration of the union and challenged him to go to court if he felt the strike was illegal.
In a statement on Saturday, Nyong’o said his ministry other relevant ministries and government departments, “will start recruiting new nurses on Tuesday December 18 to replace the current striking nurses who will not have reported to work by 1pm on Monday December 17.”
Nurses at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Moi Teaching and Referral in Eldoret and Kisii level 5 have not joined the strike which is going to the third week now.
This is because most of the nurses in the three hospitals are members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA), and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants (UKCS) and have remained opposed to the strike.
By Allan Kisia, The Standard